What can you do?
California sea lions are currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, which means that overall their population size is large. However, certain colonies in the Gulf of California have decreased over the last 15 years and might be reaching “Near Threatened” status.
Sea lions are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972, which means that it is illegal to attempt to swim with, touch, or feed these animals in the wild. Most people are unaware that it is illegal to even approach or interact with wild sea lions within 50 yards. Feeding these animals can alter their natural behaviors and put them at risk for negative consequences… an adult male California sea lion can weigh up to 800 pounds! Furthermore, if you are prosecuted for violating the MMPA, you could face up to a year in prison and fines of more than $11,000.
According to National Geographic, more than 3,000 starving sea lion pups washed up on California shores as of June 2015. This mass-stranding event has increased over the last three years. Scientists have concluded that a contributing factor to these strandings is a lack of available food sources for the pups. Seafood Watch has an excellent guide on finding sustainable seafood at your local grocery store or in your favorite restaurant here.
Several amazing facilities have been providing round-the-clock care to sick and starved marine mammals, such as California sea lions pups. Want to make a difference to these animals and save lives? Please consider donating to one of the organizations below: